A 51-page journal that Joseph Elledge kept in the months leading up to his wife’s death was put under the spotlight Monday as his first-degree murder trial resumed in Boone County Circuit Court.

The journal, which Prosecutor Dan Knight referred to as a “grievances diary,” was a compilation of complaints Elledge had about his wife. According to the documents read to the jury, he complained that she was demanding, indifferent to his feelings, secretive and insulting to his friends.

In one entry he wrote, “Mengqi is toxic, and I thoroughly believe she enjoys poisoning other people.”

Elledge’s wife, Mengqi Ji, was reported missing in October 2019, and the remains of her body were found in March.

Last week, the prosecution played nine hours of recorded conversations between the couple in an attempt to show a toxic marriage in the months leading up to Ji’s disappearance. The state then called witnesses to testify about the discovery of the body and evidence found on the soles of Elledge’s mud-caked boots.

Knight spent the bulk of Monday with a laser focus on the diary and Elledge’s cellphone activity.

He called on Jeff Adams, a mobile forensics investigator for the Missouri State Technical Assistance Team, to review material Knight was using to prove that Elledge was increasingly unhappy in his marriage. As part of the police investigation, Adams had collected an inventory of text messages and items downloaded on each of the couple’s phones.

Cued by the prosecutor, Adams spent six hours on the stand, much of it spent reading entries from Elledge’s diary. Some of the couple’s arguments logged into the diary, for example, pointed to his dissatisfaction when his wife spoke Chinese at home.

Elledge expressed resentment and claimed Ji thought speaking English would hinder their daughter’s progress in learning Chinese.

“To Mengqi, the only important thing is that Anna learns Chinese, which is selfish and leads to her mentally abusing Anna,” Adams said, reading from one of Elledge’s entries.

Elledge described one incident where he stood on their bed and offered his wife a hug. He then pushed her down onto the bed and asked for another hug.

“For real this time?” she asked.

“I said yes, and then pushed her again in the same manner,” Elledge wrote.

In cross examination, his attorney, Scott Rosenblum, pointed out that Ji had also pushed him during this interaction. Adams said he remembered reading that.

Knight also asked Adams to read text messages Elledge wrote after he reported Ji missing Oct. 10. In one, he texted his brother, Richard Elledge, to ask whether he had seen Ji or knew she was missing.

“No, we haven’t heard from her. Sorry that happened. Do you need anything I can help with?” Adams said, reading a text from Elledge’s brother.

Later that same evening, Adams read a text where the brother asked if Elledge wanted to play video games.

Rosenblum asked Adams how many text messages he had examined from phones belonging to Elledge and Ji over the course of the investigation.

“Between 15,000 to 16,000 text messages,” Adams responded.

Rosenblum suggested that the messages selected by the prosecution were an incomplete picture.

“Not having the entire context can change the nature of the conversation, correct?” Rosenblum asked.

“At times,” Adams replied.

The defense is expected to call witnesses Tuesday and begin presenting its case. Court resumes at 8:30 a.m.

  • Anna is an assistant city editor and covers the 13th Circuit Court. She can be reached by aewytn@umsystem.edu, @fromaew or in the newsroom.

  • City and County Government Reporter, fall 2021. Studying Journalism and Political Science. Reach me at ascheve@mail.missouri.edu, or in the newsroom at (573) 882-5700

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